Niceville girls and boys track and field athletes marched to the center of the field at halftime of Niceville High School’s playoff football game to roars of applause and cheers.
The crew, the first-ever to win state championship honors for girls and boys in the same year from the panhandle, included students and coaches.
On their hands, gem-encrusted state championship rings – a block N on a field of white stones.
The rings represent a four-year journey for some of the seniors on the team who graduated last year – and a nine-year journey for the coaching staff.
The staff started with just three coaches a decade ago – and has grown to nine volunteers. One coach for every section of competition for track and field.
“It’s surreal,” coach Zee White said. “We’re kind of speechless,” coach Emily Webb added, “We know how much hard work our athletes and coaches, we’re like a big family, have put in over the last 8-9 years together. We’re really honored to have everyone still together after that long – and to be able to do that as a family, [it’s] something you can’t describe.”
The Niceville Girls team blew the rest of the competition out of the water – scoring a total of 85.5 points at the state meet. George Jenkins, from Lakeland, and Mandarin High School (Jacksonville) posted the next-highest scores at the meet: 43 points. University of Arkansas Track and Field Commit Skye Tolbert lead the ladies team with top finishes in the 100m dash, the 200m, the 100m hurdles and the pole vault.
The Niceville Boys Team also turned in a dominant performance at the state meet, earning 77 points. Eon Morris turned in top performances in the 400m, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay.